Transitioning from Pleasure, Pain and Indifference to the Pure Bliss of Existence

The Taittiriya Upanishad has a striking passage that bears upon the issue of how the individual can experience the bliss of existence in all rather than the normal human reactions of pleasure, pain and indifference. “In the beginning all this Universe was Non-Existent and Unmanifest, from which this manifest Existence was born. Itself created itself; none other created it. Therefore they say of it the well and beautifully made. Lo, this that is well and beautifully made, verily it is no other than the delight behind existence. When he hath gotten him this delight, then it is that this creature becometh a thing of bliss; for who could labour to draw in the breath or who could have the strength to breathe it out, if there were not that Bliss in the heaven of his heart, the ether within his being?” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Ch. 7, pg. 271)

This passage goes to the core of the necessary conversion of consciousness to achieve active equality while remaining in the universal manifestation and participating in it. We continuously experience the touches of the world, impulses, forces, events, beings, forms that impinge upon our senses and impact our senses and our minds. Depending on our ability to hold and master them, we experience positive, negative or neutral emotions. This is the life of the normal human existence.

Sri Aurobindo explains the basis for transitioning from this normal experience to one that experiences Ananda in all the world’s touches. “All emotion, feeling, sensation is a way of the soul meeting and putting effective values on the manifestations of the Self in nature. But what the self feels is a universal delight, Ananda.” It is thus possible to move from the human experience to the deeper spiritual experience that remains potential within us.

“But all the time, because of the greater Self within us, there is a secret soul which takes delight in all these things and draws strength from and grows by all that touches it, profits as much by adverse as by favourable experience. This can make itself felt by the oute rdesire soul, and that in fact is why we have a delight in existing and can even take a certain kind of pleasure in struggle, suffering and the harsher colours of existence. But to get the universal Ananda all our instruments must learn to take not any partial or perverse, but the essential joy of all things. In all things there is a principle of Ananda, which the understanding can seize on and the aesthesis feel as the taste of delight in them, their rasa; but ordinarily they put upon them instead arbitrary, unequal and contrary values: they have to be led to perceive things in the light of the spirit and to transform these provisional values into the real, the equal and essential, the spiritual Rasa.”

“The Prana or vital being has to be liberated from desire and its inequalities and to accept and turn into pure enjoyment the rasa which the understanding and aesthesis perceive. Then there is no farther obstacle in the instruments to the third step by which all is changed into the full and pure ecstasy of the spiritual Ananda.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 12, The Way of Equality, pp. 688-689